Nikolas Sarkozy has been elected president of France:
PARIS – Nicolas Sarkozy, a blunt and uncompromising pro-American conservative, was elected president of France Sunday with a mandate to chart a new course for an economically sluggish nation struggling to incorporate immigrants and their children.
Sarkozy defeated Socialist Segolene Royal by 53-47 percent with 85 percent turnout, according to near-total results. It was a decisive victory for Sarkozy’s vision of freer markets and toughness on crime and immigration, over Royal’s gentler plan for preserving cherished welfare protections, including a 35-hour work week that Sarkozy called “absurd.”
“The people of France have chosen change,” Sarkozy told cheering supporters in a victory speech that sketched out a stronger global role for France and renewed partnership with the United States.
I find the reactions from bloggers on this side of the Pond puzzling by and large. It’s, basically, impossible to translate foreign politics into the American political spectrum. I think that American Democrats and Republicans have far more in common with each other than they do with any foreign political party and, indeed, it’s frequently been pointed out that the American Democratic and Republican Parties would fit tidily within the British Conservative Party from a policy standpoint with plenty of room for other viewpoints.
Sarkozy is without doubt more favorably disposed to state action than virtually all mainstream American politicians and I think it’s an exaggeration to, as some bloggers have, characterize him as either a staunch advocate of the free market or a rightwing nut. He’s French and his political positions must be understood within the French context.
I do think he has mainstreamed the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Jean Le Pen somewhat and doubt that’s a positive development. However, I do suspect that the message found some eager ears with Francois. Is a reaction developing? Time will tell.